'Game of Thrones' Recap: New Lannister Threat Hits King's Landing
Tywin has won a great victory — but will newcomer Oberyn put a wrench in his plans?
[WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones, "Two Swords"]
Game of Thrones is back – and after successfully ridding himself of Robb Stark in the previous season, it's appropriate that Tywin is the first person we see in the premiere.
Lord Tywin (Charles Dance) presents Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) with a Valyrian steel weapon and tells his son to return to Casterly Rock and rule in his stead. Jaime refuses, saying he wants no lands or family, and will stay in the King's Guard. (What he really wants is to be near Cersei.)
An angry Twyin insults Jaime when he offers to return the sword: "Keep it. A one-handed man with no family needs all the help he can get."
Meanwhile, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) tracks down Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal), who has set up camp in a brothel and just put his knife through a man's hand.
The Lannister-hating prince is ostensibly in town for Joffrey's wedding, but we get the sneaky feeling he has ulterior motives. As he recounts to Tyrion, his sister Elia Martell was once married to Rhaegar Targaryen, until she was raped and murdered by The Mountain during the rebellion that put King Robert on the Iron Throne. Elia's children were murdered as well (as Targaryens, they posed a threat to Robert's claim). Oberyn blames Tywin for the death, as The Mountain was under his command.
"Tell your father I'm here. And tell him the Lannisters aren't the only ones who pay their debts," Oberyn tells Tyrion.
In the East, the dragons have grown larger and Daenerys has more men vying for her affections than ever. She finds Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Daario (Michiel Huisman) engaged in a contest to see who will ride at her side, and orders them to put an end to such foolishness.
The scene is our first look at the new Daario, as Huisman replaces Ed Skrein in the role this season. Huisman's take on the character is more cuddly and less sleazy. Could this be laying the groundwork for a romance between him and the Mother of Dragons?
Later, Daario flirtatiously gives Daenerys a variety of flowers to impart a lesson – that she needs to know the local lands if she is to rule. Cute.
Not so cute: the 163 crucified children Daenerys' men discover on their march to Meereen. She vows to look upon all of their faces, and we imagine she will not be happy when she meets the slavers in Meereen who murdered the children.
Back in King's Landing, Sansa (Sophie Turner) deals with the aftermath of the Red Wedding, telling Tyrion she lies awake at night thinking about what happened to her mother and brother. When she's in private, Ser Dontos (Tony Way) approaches Sansa to thank her for saving him from Joffrey back in season two.
Later, Tyrion rebuffs Shae's (Sibel Kekilli) attempts to seduce him, saying it's not a good time. A servant overhears and later rushes to tell Cersei (Lena Headey). Let's assume this will come back to haunt Tyrion later.
Tyrion isn't the only Lannister to turn down some hot lovin'. After Jaime gets a golden hand to replace his missing one, he tries to start something with Cersei, but she rejects him.
"You come back after all this time with one hand and no apologies and expect everything to be the same," she says. When Jaime says he "murdered people" so he could be with her, she responds coldly: "You took too long."
Later, as Jaime plans security for Joffrey's (Jack Gleeson) wedding, the king mocks his uncle/father by paging through a book chronicling the honors of members of the King's Guard.
Jaime's entry is quite short, and Joffrey scoffs that somebody forgot to write down his uncle's deeds. Jaime says there is still time for him to accomplish great things. Joffrey's snotty response?
"Is there? For a 40-year-old knight with one hand? How can you protect me with that?"
South of the Wall, we run into creepy cannibal Styr (Joseph Gatt), who has a standoff with Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and Tormund (Kristofer Hivju). It's implied that Styr is among Mance Rayder's commanders, but Tormund says he won't take orders from him.
"You really ought to try crow," says Styr as a human arm is revealed to be roasting on the campfire.
This Styr guy clearly has issues, but Tormund forms an uneasy alliance with him.
At Castle Black, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) stands before the Night's Watch leadership and admits his crimes (including sleeping with a Wildling girl.) More importantly, he tells them Mance Rayder plans a two-point attack on Castle Black -- one from the North and one from the South. "Do you intend to execute me or am I free to go?" says Jon. They decline to kill him.
We also pick back up with Arya (Maisie Williams) and The Hound (Rory McCann), whose chemistry makes them the obvious choice to pick up the buddy-comedy role occupied by Jaime and Brienne last season.
The pair are at odds, but bond after slaughtering a group of Joffrey's men at a tavern. Among the dead is Polliver (Andy Kellegher), who murdered Arya's friend Lommy back in season two and stole Needle.
The episode ends with Arya and The Hound each getting what they want – revenge and a sword for Arya and some nice chicken for The Hound.
What did you think of the premiere? Who's headed for glory and who's head will soon be on a pike? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned to THR.com/GOT Monday for more from the episode.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.